Derek Gifford of Folk Northwest
reviews Dusty Diamonds by Martin & Shan GraebeThe first thing that I noted about this latest CD from these two is that the last time I reviewed one of their recordings they weren’t married! Belated congratulations to them both and also congratulations on producing another very enjoyable CD.
Martin has a rather misty sounding voice which complements Shan’s strong attractive tonal singing and their tight harmonies are a pleasure to listen to.
Martin is something of an authority on Sabine Baring-Gould so the material, as might be expected, is mostly from that collector’s portfolio. Cecil Sharp’s songs are also well represented here. In addition two tracks are Martin’s own songs. Of the latter I particularly liked ‘Shropshire Union’ sung a capella by Martin.
There are some new, and therefore refreshing, versions of some well known songs including ‘Henry Martin’ and ‘The Lark in the Morn’ and a wonderfully jolly version of ‘Down in the Coal Mine’ from whence comes the CD’s title.
My favourite track however has to be ‘The Great Galleon of Plymouth’ the second of Martin’s own songs. An amusing ‘tall tale’ type of chorus song that deserves better exposure. Martin and Shan are joined on some tracks by my old partner in crime Keith Kendrick who plays his usual sympathetic concertina accompaniments and other tracks are further enhanced by sensitive fiddle playing from Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll. Doug Bailey and Sylvia Needham help fill out the choruses on a couple of tracks.
They end the album with a strong and almost happy rendering of ‘My Coffin Shall Be Black’ involving all the personnel (and where the arithmetic in the song doesn’t add up!). Not a subject you would normally associate with rejoicing but the way it’s performed here definitely has that air about it making a fine finish to smashing album.
An attractive cover and full, erudite notes on the insert complete this fine CD.